NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Enhancing Solutions to Your Problems With Clinical Hypnosis

When people come to therapy to work out emotional problems that they've been struggling with on their own, in many cases, they don't realize that they actually have the solutions to their problems within themselves.  Clinical hypnosis, also known as hypnotherapy, gives therapy clients an opportunity to access and enhance these solutions.

With the help of an experienced hypnotherapist, who knows how to help therapy clients to gain access to internal solutions to their problems, clients often gain access to internal resources that they have either forgotten about or never realized that they had.

While this might not work for every client and for every problem that clients bring to therapy, it works more often than most people realize.

As an example of how clinical hypnosis can be helpful in this way, the following composite vignette, which has all identifying information changed to protect confidentiality, illustrates this point:

Ed, who is a writer, came to therapy because he had "writer's block."  He had already received an advance for his book and he was worried that he wouldn't meet the deadline that he and his publisher had originally agreed upon.

Accessing and Enhancing the Solutions With Clinical Hypnosis: Writer's Block 

The more Ed worried about meeting the deadline, the more "blocked" he felt in his writing.  He described spending hours staring at his computer trying to will himself to begin writing.  But he felt like he had nothing worthwhile to say, even though he was considered an expert in his field.

At those times, Ed described "feeling like a fraud" who had duped other people into believing that he knew what he was talking about.  During those times, he was in constant fear that people would find out that he really wasn't who they thought he was, and then his career would be over.

He described feeling an "old tape" play over and over again in his mind which sounded like his  father's voice saying, "Who do you think you are acting so important!?! No one wants to hear what you have to say."

Even though he had never experienced hypnosis before in his life, Ed agreed to give it a try.  Before we began, I explained, as I often do when a client has never experienced hypnosis, that Ed would be in control of his experience the entire time, so that he could stop at any time.  I also explained to him that he would be in a relaxed state where he would maintain a dual awareness of the here-and-now as well as whatever came up during the hypnosis session.

Since Ed was an experienced writer, this wasn't the first time that he was drawing a blank when he sat down to write.  It had happened to him many times before when he was trying to write magazine articles.  But Ed felt that this was different because his assignment involved writing a book and this seemed like a much more daunting process.

Prior to beginning hypnosis, I asked Ed what he had done in the past that helped him when he felt blocked while writing a magazine article, but Ed didn't think he had done anything special to overcome his other experiences with "writer's block."

But when he was in a relaxed hypnotic state, Ed remembered that during those other times, he was, in fact, active in overcoming his block and he remembered what he did:  Instead of conjuring up his critical father, like he was doing for his book assignment, he thought about his college professor from his writing class, who praised and encouraged Ed's writing.  He lifted Ed's spirit and helped him to believe that he had it in him to become a writer.

During hypnosis, Ed remembered how proud he felt when he could say, "I'm a writer" and feel good about it.  He attributed this new found self confidence at the start of his writing career to the encouragement from his professor, who became his writing coach and mentor.

Although his mentor wasn't around any more, Ed could still re-experience the joy he felt during the hypnosis session that someone as esteemed as his mentor had confidence in him.

Accessing and Enhancing the Solutions With Clinical Hypnosis

Using hypnosis, I helped Ed to amplify and deepen this experience with a post hypnotic suggestion so that he could access this empowering experience whenever he needed it.  After several sessions, Ed was writing again and his ideas were flowing.  He was able to look at the book as a series of chapters, similar to the magazine articles that he wrote, instead of becoming overwhelmed that it was a book.

At that point, Ed could have left therapy because his presenting problem was resolved, but he was fascinated by the hypnotherapy process and he decided to remain to work through the trauma of having a hypercritical father.

Accessing and Enhancing the Solution With Clinical Hypnosis
The reason why Ed and other therapy clients are able to access and enhance internal resources using clinical hypnosis is that hypnosis allows them to enter into a receptive state where they are more open to discovering internal solutions.

In the particular example that I gave about Ed, there was a direct relationship between what he did in the past to overcome "writer's block" to what he could do now to overcome the same problem.  But it's often the case that therapy clients discover in hypnosis that they can use internal resources that they used for completely different problems to overcome a current problem.

For example, a woman who showed courage in the past by confronting a bully at her high school was able to access the same courage, which was already a part of her, to ask her boss for a raise.

In a hypnosis session, she was able to access that same courageous self state that wasn't accessible to her during ordinary consciousness.  She could feel it on an emotional and physical level and, with hypnosis, we were able to deepen and amplify the connection that she felt to this self state so that she could use it in her current situation.

The Importance of the Client-Hypnotherapist Rapport
Just like any other type of therapy, clinical hypnosis works best when there is a good rapport between the client and the hypnotherapist.  This usually doesn't happen the first time that they meet in the therapist's office.  It takes time to build a rapport of trust and safety.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you feel stuck with a problem that you've tried, without success, to work out on your own, you could benefit from seeing an experienced hypnotherapist.  During the initial sessions, the hypnotherapist would gather information about the presenting problem as well as your personal history and determine whether you can be helped by clinical hypnosis.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.  I have helped many clients to overcome the obstacles that  kept them from living a fulfilling life.

I also work adjunctively with clients who have primary therapists who are not hypnotherapists.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.